Look Both Ways Before Crossing the Road

I’m afraid this post will have nothing interesting about Rio de Janeiro and no photos (until I find something appropriately symbolic) because I wasn’t really planning on this happening.  It will, however, be short and easily digestible and when my mother gets around to reading it will really scare her.  I swear, I’m not trying to make these type of things happen.  The other day Julio called South America the jungle and said I needed to learn how to survive in it… I guess I learn slowly.  Without further ado, another mis-adventure you should try to avoid.

We are staying in the northern part of the city, well away from the crowded south zone beaches that are currently full of World Cup visitors.  It’s Sunday evening and we decide to head down that way partially so Julio can meet up with a friend who is here.  Accompanied by the four other couchsurfers, three Japanese guys and a Chinese girl, who are staying at the same place as us, we leave the house around 9pm.   From the house we walk past the kids playing football on a basketball court and through the large jungle-like garden to cross over the train tracks.  Rio’s temperature is perfect for someone like me who is cold almost everywhere; even in the evening it’s feels tropically warm.  The wait for the bus isn’t too long, but we’re only taking it to the metro so we get off less than 10 minutes later.  Those buttons you push to stop the bus weren’t working so we went a little bit further than we meant to and have to start walking back.

Though it isn’t terribly late, the streets are fairly quiet here and there’s no traffic to be seen.  We start crossing the road and a motorcycle comes speeding towards us.  I see Julio do a quick jog to avoid the bike before I see the light come speeding towards me and it swerves, crashing right into me.  And then it just keeps on going… not that I can see because I’m trying to assess any damages.  I’ve been hit slightly by cars while on my bike in LA, but I never thought I would know what it feels to be hit straight on by a motorcycle.  Doesn’t feel so good turns out.

From that point on everything was happened seemed to be happening quickly.  Julio and all the other couchsurfers freaked out, of course, as I get up and discovering I can still see out of both my eyes say that it’s totally fine.  They get me to sit down again.  Apparently it’s actually not okay and I have a deep gash above my right eye.  I only realize this when Julio tells me to cover it with my hand and it immediately is soaked in blood.  Now they’re trying to collect themselves enough so they can figure out how to get a taxi.  Someone pulls up before they resolve to do anything to see what’s going on — a Brazilian guy who thought I was drunk and maybe needed some help.  I try to stand up to tell him what happened, I’m the only one who really speaks any Portuguese in the group, though Julio manages to make himself understood with Spanish.  But as soon as I do, I start to feel faint and instead of talking to the driver I just find myself telling Julio I think I’m going to pass out.  Our Brazilian savior has seen the blood now though and it’s apparent we need to go to a hospital.  Next thing you know, I’m in the back of the car still trying to plug my wound and slumped over on Julio who keeps telling me everything is okay.  Sherri, the Chinese girl, is in the car with us and she accompanies me when the medical personal put me onto one of those rolling hospital stretchers so Julio can contact one of our CS hosts Felipe.

I’m lay on the bed for what seems like a long time, though I’m less concerned about myself than maybe I should be.  Sherri seems more worried than me anyway as she tries to clean up some of the blood.  Presumably my face is covered, but I can’t see anything beyond the scrapes and dry blood on my hands.  She starts to get teary as we’re waiting and I tell her not to worry.   Nothing seems to be broken though and nothing hurts when I’m probed by the doctor so they start working on the head wound.  I hear them say that it’s deep, but it should be fine.   The only time I start panicking slightly is when they come at my head with a needle… I’m still terrified of them same as my younger brother who’s passed out before getting shots.   Then I feel the strange and slight tugging on my skin as they sew the wound shut.  After it’s stitched up, Julio relieves Sherri and stays with me as they take transfer me to another room to take some blood from my arm which I notice for the first time.  I guess the bike hit me there too.  The x-rays reveal no brain trauma so after a brief discussion with the doctor I’m sent off with a prescription and instructions to stay out of the sun and keep ice on the swelling.  Felipe, who arrived sometime while I was being stitched up, talks to the guy who picked us up from the metro trying to figure out where they can find a pharmacy this time on a Sunday night.  Nowhere… the stronger medicine will have to wait till morning, but I receive some other ones from the emergency room in the mean time.

And that’s the time I got hit by a motorcycle in Brazil.  Even though the treatment was free, I advise against it as I’m now spending the next days cooped up inside with and ice pack on my head while Julio plays nurse and encourages me to take the time to heal despite my ‘childish’ protests.

P.S. Since there was no brain damage I could still beat Stephen Colbert at LOTR trivia.


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